Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Darwinian Conspiracy

It is a fact that the vast majority of scientists accept evolution, and in particular virtually all biologists - the people most familiar with the evidence - do. As Project Steve shows, the number of biologists who accept evolution out-numbers those who do not by a factor of well over a hundred (see here and here).

The way creationists typically rationalise this is with a conspiracy - though not necessarily in so many words. A global cabal of scientists actively seeking to undermine Christianity.

Cornelius Hunter
...the strength of the evolutionary argument is not in its driving up the probability of evolution, but in its driving down the probability of creation or design.
http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/arguing-with-evolutionists-or-how-i.html
Jonathan Wells
Science follows the evidence wherever it leads, but Darwinism does not. So the present controversy over evolution is not a war between science and religion. It is primarily a war between Darwinism and evidence--and the evidence will win.
http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/05/evolution-evidence-religion-opinions-darwin09_0205_jonathan_wells.html

Seriously?

A major stumbling block in this is that a large proportion of those scientists are Christians. Why are they actively trying to undermine their own faith?

The "National Science Foundation" gives some figures for the number of scientists working in the US, here. They give a figure of 3.5 million people in science and engineering occupations in 1999, of which about 340,000 are "Life and related scientists". I think that based on this, it is reasonable to assume that there are a few million biologists across the world.

If what these people says is true (and I kind of suspect it is not), then that is quite a conspiracy, involving all these millions of people. I wonder how it works...

Imagine you are a keen biology student at school, taught all about evolution. It is exciting, it is interesting, so you go to college to do biology, get a degree and a Ph.D., and then do a post-doc, and finally become a lecturer. Somewhere along that career path, you have to have joined the conspiracy. Another lecturer or someone must have taken you aside to a dark corner (to put it melodramatically), and whispered about how the whole evolution thing is made up - there is no real evidence for it at all. Now, please join our conspiracy, and you too can pretend evolutuion is real science for the next generation of gullable idiots. Or maybe they have a lecture where the conspiracy is revealed to all the new biologists at college that year, and students are only allowed out once they have signed away their souls.

Does that sound reasonable?

Remember, for this conspiracy to work, this has to be going on at every college around the globe. For more than a century.

Out of all those millions of biologist, they all say; Sure, no problem. Even the Christian biologists have no problem pretending evolution is good science, lying to their fellow Christians for the sake of an atheist plot. I can see that some of them might go along with it for the sake of their careers, but all of them? Is that not just a tiny bit unlikely?

Is it not likely that some will make a stand? Just one person in the last 100 years? Surely there are some biologists who quit to become something else; why have none of them blow the whistle on this huge conspiracy? Why do none of them tell their stories to the newspapers when they retire? How about when they have been sacked?

What about Denton and Behe? They are both biologists (or biochemists) who have gone some considerable distance through the academic system. Behe is a professor of biochemistry, but a stauch ID proponent. Why has he not spoken out against this conspiracy? Mike Gene is the pseudonym of a biologist and IDist, who has a blog, Telic Thought, where he posts anonymously (or used to, he seems to have stopped now); surely it would be safe for him to let the cat out of the bag there.

No one every has, that I could find. Is it possible that there is no conspiracy?

Not for these people. The conspiracy is a crutch, a crutch that they need to support their religious beliefs. If the crutch is takewn away from them, they will have to accept that the reaspon so many scientists accepts evolution is because of the evidence.

And they can never do that.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Eternal Suffering

Something I find fascinating about Christuanity is how it rationalises an all-loving, all-good God setting up a system that results in most people ending up in eternal suffering.

I am, of course, talking about hell.

Let me first make it clear that plenty of Christians already understand that the idea of eternal suffering is not compatible with an all-loving God. See for example:
http://www.godsplanforall.com/jesusdidnotteachhell
http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2006/03/There-Is-No-Hell.aspx
http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/jesusteachingonhell.html

Unfortunately, many Christians readily embrace the concept of hell. Hell has two great appeals for religious leaders. Firstly, it means that those who scorn Christianity will suffer eternal torturing. What could be more satisfying to a God-fearing Christian than to know that his enemies will literally burn in hell! Oh, wait, if they are true Christians then they should love their enemies, and the thought of them going to hell would fill them with horror and dread.

Well, there is still one reason to embrace the ideal of hell, if you are a true Christian, which is that hell is a wonderful way to keep your flock in order. In fact hell and heaven are the ultimate stick and carrot. Do as we tell you and you get everlasting happiness. Disobey, and suffer for ever.

Actually, now I think about it, those are two very bad reasons for a Christian to think the idea of hell is good.

Some Theology

The problem with hell is that it is God making people suffer. Most right-thinking people today consider causing needless suffering to be morally wrong. There may be times when it is required, say to punish a child (though personally I am against physical punishment) or in a medical procedure, but in these cases we would say it is "the lesser of two evils". We recognise that causing the suffering is evil, but it is better than the alternative.

How can God, a supposedly perfectly good being, do the lesser of two evils? Well, perhaps it is just a saying.

Needless Suffering

Here is the argument laid out formally. P indicates a proposition, something I have assumed to be true. C indicates a conclusion, something that must necessarily be true, given the previous propositions and conclusions.

P1: God causes people to go to hell
P2: People in hell suffer
C1: God causes people to suffer
P3: That suffering, or at least some portion of it, is needless
C2: God causes people needless suffering
P4: Causing needless suffering is necessaily evil
C3: God does evil

Let us go through this step by step.

P1: God causes people to go to hell: This is the claim of those Christians who believe in hell. They may say that going to hell is automatic, it is the default, unless God choses to save you, and so excuse God in that way, but this fails to convince because God is the creator of everything; he chose to create hell, he chose to create us such that going to hell is the default; therefore, God causes people to go to hell. Others say that we go to hell because of our own actions (or inactions), but again this ignores the party God plays in the process. It is clear that God has instigated a system in which people go to hell.

P2: People in hell suffer: This seems a given.

C1: God causes people to suffer: This follows inevitable from P1 and P2.

P3: That suffering, or at least some portion of it, is needless: This is the big issue in my thesis; is it necessary that bad people suffer infinite torment? Before you say yes too quickly, think carefully about who goes to hell. Christian has a lot of opinions on this topic, but many Christians believe all non-Christians will go to hell. Gandhi, the great spiritual leader who won indepedance for India by non-violent protest, was a Hindu, so hell for an eterntity of suffering for him. Do non-christians really need eternal suffering? What exactly is its purpose? More on this later.

C2: God causes people needless suffering: This follows from C1 and P3.

P4: Causing needless suffering is necessaily evil: This is self-evidently true.

C3: God does evil: This follows from C2 and P4.

Rationalising It Away

 Christians have invented all sorts of rationalisations to attempt to justify hell, many touch on P3 above. Here are a selection I have come across.

Rationalisation 1: God’s goodness demands it.

The logic here seems to be that it is a fact that God is perfectly good and it is a fact that God makes people suffer for all eternity, therefore it must be the way it is.

On what basis can I so strongly and confidently assert the necessity and existence of eternal, conscious torment in hell, even if my heart naturally cries out in rebellion against the thought? Only because God’s Word is clear on the matter.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v7/n3/eternal-torment

I guess that is satisfactory for those who accept the claims as fundamental truths, but to those who are unconvinced on the existence of God, the logical is wholely lacking.

Rationalisation 2: Who am I to question God?

This is a popular one, but is really just a dodge. Again, it makes the assumption that God exists and is perfectly good. If you make that assumption, then you may find this persuasive, but how can you be sure God is perfectly morally good if you believe you cannot make any moral judgement of him?

Rationalisation 3: A sin again God is infinitely bad


Since the sinner and the results of the sin continue forever, it makes sense that the sinner's punishment also continues forever.
http://www.rationalchristianity.net/hell.html#just

God says you must not work from sunset on a Friday to sunset the following Saturday (later Christians decided to arbitarily call Sunday the Sabbath, but the Sabbath that Jesus respected was Saturday). If you work on a Saturday, you are disobeying God's command, and, as God is infinite, that means (according to this claim) that your sin is infinite.

Similarly, if you set up a program to conquer Europe, and destroy all the entire Jewish race, this too is an infinite sin.

In both cases, the boy on his paper round and Adolf Hitler, the sinner deserves eternal punishment.

In modern judicial systems the punishment is proportional to the severity of the crime, and not the importance of the victim of the crime (at least in theory; in practice I accept this happens, but we most people consider that to be corrupt). God's system, which Christians wil tell you is infinitely just, the nature of the crime is irrelevant, all that is significant is the importance of the victim. God is infinite, so the punishment is infinite.

Rationalisation 4: Either heaven or hell

Another approach is to suggest God has exactly two choices for a soul: Heaven or hell. If he is just, then some people have to go to hell, right?

The only problem is, nobody measures up! So, if we rely on the justice of God, we're sunk! There is nobody here who deserves to go to heaven. Nobody is good enough! So if we depend on God's justice, we've had it. It's all over.
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-a-loving-god-send-people-to-hell-the-craig-bradley-debate#ixzz295Z6ctpU

To object to hell is to object to justice. It is to say we want a world with no justice, where evil reigns without punishment. It is to say we want evil to run wild without any checks. This is foolishness. No one could live in such a world.
http://www.free-bible-study-lessons.com/hell.html

Well, no, this is a false dichotomy because there are other options, and being all-knowing, God must know that! The catholic church devised purgatory, for example, and reincarnation and soul-death are two more.

Rationalisation 5: It is what they want

All the people who end up in hell do so because they prefer it to being in God's presence.

All the people who end up going to hell will have done so because they actually prefer hell to being forced into the presence of God for all eternity.
http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/hell.html

But He is also merciful, and those who are not prepared to stand directly in His presence, those who do not have on the wedding garments, those who do not love and desire Him, will be cast into the outer darkness (Matt. 8:12). And they will need no urging to go!
http://justthinkingpages.tripod.com/hell.html

This is not a common one, I suspect because it allows non-Christians easy access to heaven. Most Christians insist that heaven is a closed club - you have to be a Christian (and often the right sort of Christian) to get inside. According to this idea, the Muslim and Buddist who prefer to be in the presence of an all-loving God to eternal suffering will be allowed into heaven.


To be honest, this is fair enough. If people can decide if they go to heaven or hell, then that absolves God of the responsibility - assuming they understand the implications and get to choose freely.

Rationalisation 6: Adam sinned so we all should go to hell by default

This is the claim that because Adam sinned it is only right and proper that every single one of us suffer for all eternity, and God's love is evident in that he saves a few of us.

When Adam, as our representative, joined Satan's side in the rebellion against God, it became our punishment as well.
http://www.free-bible-study-lessons.com/hell.html

This is another time when God's idea of justice is seriously at odds with our own. Oh, and his too. Modern judicial systems punish the perpetrator of a crime, never his descendants, and the Bible even agrees (Ezekiel 18:20 "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son").

Furthermore, this is really just a dodge. The question is why would an all-good God have people suffer. The fact that this supposed all-good God set up the system so that everyone suffers only makes it worse. Especialy as all that suffering is due to one sin.

Think about it. Hitler is in hell not because of the atrocities the Nazis commited, but because Adam disobeyed God.

There is a perfectly just God for you...

Rationalisation 7: This is just an argument from moral outrage

This is seen often when debating the Bible on an internet forum, and is an attempt to discredit the argument saying it is based on engendering outrage in the reader, rather than logic. It ignores that at heart the argument is actually based on logic.

Who Goes To Hell?

The standard position is that anyone who does not believe in Jesus goes to hell.

This is the cult position. It is saying that if you are in our cult, you are okay, but outsiders will suffer; what better way to keep people locked into your cult? But is it just?

Absolutely not! It is the epitome of religious intolerence for one thing, making people suffer because of their religious belief.

Consider Gandhi, a great statesman who led India to independance by non-violent protest, and Hitler, a fascist dictator who initiated a plan to exterminate the Jews and to rule Europe by force. Neither were Christians, so both will be tortured by God for eternity. Does this stike you as just and merciful?

Many Christians will claim that in hell the suffering is graduated to what you did on Earth, but there is no scriptural support for that position that I am aware of. Plenty of verses indicate all sinners are treated the same:

Psalms 104:35, "Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more."

Malachi 4:1, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

Matthew 13:40, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world."

John 15:6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

Isaiah 66:24, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake – some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. 3 But the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavenly expanse. And those bringing many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

There may be graduations in hell, as Matthew indicates clear, but the degree of suffering God inflicts is related to your rejection of Jesus, not to your crimes against humanity.

Matthew 11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Is Hell Needed?

I said earlier I would discuss whether the suffering in hell for needed or not. I have touched on that above, but let is look in more depth.

Deterrent: The fear of hell converting people to Christianity


One argument against hell is this: No person in his right mind would choose eternal punishment in hell over heaven. Therefore everyone would repent when sent to hell. If God lets the repentant leave, hell will be empty (and therefore can be disregarded). If God doesn't let the repentant leave, God is unjust for continuing to punish them after they've repented.

 The trouble with this line of reasoning is that repentance is not simply a matter of one saying, "Okay, I'll say whatever you want me to, just get me out of here!" Repentance involves acknowledging one's guilt, feeling remorse and the desire to change one's behavior, accepting Christ's sacrifice as substitutionary punishment for one's wrongs and agreeing to love and obey God (including Christ as God the Son). This includes by definition acceptance of eternal punishment in hell as just punishment for one's sins; while the skeptic may still object that continued punishment of the repentant is unjust, the repentant will respond that their continued punishment is deserved and could only end through God's mercy.
http://www.rationalchristianity.net/hell.html#just

And the trouble with this line of reasoning is that it removes from Hell most of its justification. The best argument for hell is that it offers people a motivation for finding God. This author is saying that if you find God just to avoid hell, then that is not sincere. I agree; if heaven is for believers and hell for unbelievers, then naturally the religion will attract people desiring heaven and fearing hell, rather than those with a sincere faith.

So exactly why was Jesus using heaven as an enticement (eg John 3:3 - "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."), and hell as a deterrent? This is from Matthew:

Matthew 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Here is a great example of a web site using the fear of hell to get people to become Christians.
http://www.av1611.org/hell.html

So does God want these insincere Christians or not?

It is interesting to consider the morality here too. Is it morally right to say: Worship me or suffer infinite pain

I am sure most of us would say that such threats were morally wrong, evil even. Curiously, some Christians only think it is morally wrong when humans do it. Might is right, and all that, I suppose. God is all powerful, therefore he can threaten, torture and kill, and it is still morally right (I mean, he commits genocide in the Bible, but still these people think he is perfectly good).

Of course, such a person will refute my argument by says, "It's God, therefore it is morally right." Let us assume such a facile argument is not going to work...

If Hell Is Not A Deterrent

From Wikipedia:
Fundamental justifications for punishment include: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitations...
If hell is not a deterrent, and it cannot be for rehabilitation as it is for ever, that leaves retribution and incapacitation. The latter does not require any suffering (or continued existence even), so the only reason left is revenge. God gets his own back on those who dare to disobey him. God then becomes spiteful and full of hate, the antithesis of how Christians like to portray him.

And indeed that is what the Bible says:

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

People go to hell because God, the petty-minded tyrant, is angry at them for not worshipping him.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Noachian Flood Part 3 - Aftermath

A few more issues about the claims of a global flood...

More Provisions

Noah's troubles are not over once the ark has hit land. He cannot just let his lions go off and find food straightaway. The first prey they bring down will be one species extinct. And lions kill about five times a week, I think. Noah will have to keep feeding the carnivores until the prey species have got sufficiently established that they can (as a species) survive being hunted. How long will that take for zebras, for example? I would guess decades.

A Change of Heart for the Eternal Unchanging...

God apparently lives outside of time, is eternal and unchanging. So it is rather amusing to read that after the flood he changes his attitude.
21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

The Covenant

God allows mankind to eat meat from now on.

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Later, he changes his mind, prohibiting pig meat, for example. Also, why was Abel raising sheep?

Genesis 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Now he could be keeping sheep for the wool and the milk, but the bit in verse 4 suggests outwise. Abel did not sacrice the milk or the wool to God, he sacrificed the meat (just as Cain offered the part of the plant that was edible).

The Rainbow

God sends the rainbow as a sign that he will never destroy he world again.

Genesis 9: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Curious that the purpose of the rainbow is to remind an all-knowing God about his own promise... However, the really odd thing here is that apparently raindrops did not reflect light before then.

Of course, the reality is that this is just another Biblical "just-so" story. Why are there rainbows? It is God telling us he will not drown the entire world again. Nowadays we know the real reason.

Biodistribution

Given 4500 years how far can one animal species spread? How do they get across large stretches of water? Let us think about the koala, and its 7000 mile journey to Australia. Okay, only a couple of miles each year, but that assumes they have some kind of homing instinct, and head that way directly. Bear in mind they have to find food, sleep (and koalas spend a lot of time sleeping), and raise a family. And all the time, they are heading for this promised land.

I guess it was just lucky none of the faster predators caught up with them...

Why did so many marsupials go to Australia, and so few placentals (only bats, dingoes and humans; outside the fairy tale of creationism, Australian split away before placental mammals evolved, and so they are absent except bats who flew there, and dingos and humans who originally arrived by boat)? What drove quolls, thylacines and wombats so hard that none were left along the way, but no rats or horses went there before Europeans arrived?

Dinosaur Remains

How come there are no remains left today on top of the geological column of dinosaurs. According to creationism, they were around about 4000 years ago, remember, after the flood. These things had seriously big bones; did no one think to save a single one? Did no one fashion a necklace from the teeth of a T. Rex, or boots from the skin of a deinosuchus, or use the horn from a monoclonius to drink from?


History

From this YEC site: "Perhaps it is seen most of all in this very Border Sacrifice which the Emperor performed twice a year. This ceremony, which goes back at least to 2230 B.C. was continued in China for over four thousand years." This would suggest that Chinese culture was already well established by 2230 BC. How does that fit with a global flood?

Here is a timeline for Egyptian rulers, going back to Menes (3414 BC). Hieroglyphs data from about 3000 BC. See also the Wiki entry, which says that the Sahara desert formed around 2500 BC (about when creationists say there was a global flood).

Archaeologists have found Egyptian remains from as far back as 8000 BC. Could these be from communities living before the flood? The answer is no, because these remains are found at the top of the geological column. Any pre-flood remains would have to be at the bottom, buried under all the sediment laid down during the flood.

Answers in Genesis even have a table on their website giving the chronology of early Mesopotamia, going back to 5800 BC, before the time they suppose the flood happened!

Dendrochronology or Tree Ring Dating

From Wiki:

Many trees in temperate zones grow one growth ring each year, the newest ring being under the bark. For the entire period of a tree's life, a year-by-year record or ring pattern is formed that reflects the climatic conditions in which the tree grew. Adequate moisture and a long growing season result in a wide ring. A drought year may result in a very narrow one. Trees from the same region will tend to develop the same patterns of ring widths for a given period. These patterns can be compared and matched ring for ring with trees growing in the same geographical zone and under similar climatic conditions. Following these tree-ring patterns from living trees back through time, chronologies can be built up. Thus wood from ancient structures can be matched to known chronologies (a technique called cross-dating) and the age of the wood determined precisely. Cross-dating was originally done by visual inspection. Nowadays, computers are used to do the statistical matching.

To eliminate individual variations in tree ring growth, dendrochronologists take the smoothed average of the tree ring widths of multiple tree samples to build up a ring history. This process is termed replication. A tree ring history whose beginning and end dates are not known is called a floating chronology. It can be anchored by cross-matching either the beginning or the end section against the end sections of another chronology (tree ring history) whose dates are known. Fully anchored chronologies which extend back more than 10,000 years exist for river oak trees from South Germany (from the Main and Rhine rivers). A fully anchored chronology which extends back 8500 years exists for the bristlecone pine in the southwest US (White Mountains of California).

Web site of a lab that does it:
http://www.earthscape.org/t1/trl01/




Friday, 16 November 2012

The Noachian Flood Part 2 - Life on the Ark

Numbers on the Ark

So how many animals were on the ark? Answers vary, this site says 145,400. This would mean packing the animals in like battery chickens. Each human would have to look after 18,000 animals each. Say a cage needs mucking out once a week, he will be mucking out 2600 cages a day, or 2.7 cages every minute (leaving him six hours a day to sleep, eat, feed all the other thousands of animals he is responsible for).

At the other end of the scale (I have not researched this fully; there may well be higher or lower estimates out there), we have 16,000 animals (here). In this scenario, the humans have a leisurely 12 to 13 minutes to muck out each cage... For 16 hours a day, for a year. Who was it getting punished again?

Here is a page where AiG list all the supposed "kinds" of mammals. It is not a bad article in general, although it does say:

Wilson and Reeder (2005) place the great apes in Hominidae with humans, but given the significant differences between us and apes compared to some of the differences between other families, this seems ludicrous.

This ignores the inconvenient fact that chimps are genetically closer to us than to gorillas, but as noted at the start of my previous page, if a fact disagrees with their religious dogma, AiG will just ignore the fact.

Anyway, they propose 137 "kinds" of mammal still around today, but note: "Given the number of extinct mammalian families known from the fossil record, the actual number on the Ark could easily have been well over 300." They evolved into the 5500 species of mammal known today.

You also need the reptiles and birds. There are some extant 10 000 species of bird, and 9 000 species of reptile. Remember, God wants seven of each "kind" of bird.

3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

Though Noah seems to have ignored that, and just taken two of each anyway:

8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

Oh, God wanted all the animals that creep. There are over 100 000 species of spider and scorpion, about a million species of insects (Noah might be alright there, as most insects fly, but are not fowl; makes you wonder how those huge numbers of insects survived the flood though). There are moluscs, crustaceans and others, but a lot live in the sea, so we can probably ignore them (we are assuming freshwater and saltwater fish alike can survive the flood anyway). That said, creationists often claim that invertebrates are not animals in the Biblical sense, so Noah did not have to transport, and just pretend they could survive a global flood anyway.

In this hypothesis, we get to the 145,400 species by a process of (I assume) hypermutation, with new species appearing at the rate of nearly 29 new species appearing each year (these are mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians).

This is the average rate, one would expect the rate to be proportion to the number of existing species (10,000 species will produce less new species a year than 100,000 species will), so should be much higher today, than in Noah's time. I do not believe there is any evidence of new species appearing at that rate. Indeed, creationists actually use the claim that new species are NOT appearing to argue against evolution! odd that...

Whatever figure you have for the number of animals on the ark, you have a compromise between hyperevolution and packing in ridiculous numbers of animals.

Some people have suggested that some animals were carried as eggs, but I am not aware of any animal that has an incubation time of greater than a year, and once the eggs hatch, you have the problems of feeding and mucking out. A newly hatched bird will require a lot of attention. Furthermore, growing animals need a lot of food, and it is especially important that they get the right nutrition (I know, I have kids). It has also been suggested that the animals hibernated, but the number of hibernating animals is not large, and it tends to be the smaller ones anyway.

I seem to remember a claim that the animals could be trained to "do their business" in a convenient place (bucket, etc.). It will take some considerable time (to put it mildly) to toilet train 16,000 animals, and this will preclude taking juveniles (there just is no time to train before the journey). The humans still need to haul the "waste" up onto deck (the majority of animals have to be below the water line to keep the boat from capsizing).

Dinosaurs and the Ark

Do the above numbers include dinosaurs? The Bible says every kind, so dinosaurs (and other extinct animals) must be present (and creationists will generally agree). Who gets the job of feeding the T.Rex? Put in a couple of apatosaurus, a pair of brachiosaurus, two tyranosaurus, two deinosuchus, two stegasaurus, two triceratops, two anklosaurus, two indricotherium, two velociraptors, two smilodons and a couple of pteradactyls and you are quickly filling the ark (and there are plenty more kinds of dinosaurs and other large extinct animals). And after all that, the whole lot of them go extinct a few years later!

Here is a lengthy text by AiG addressing why dinosaurs went extinct after being saved on the ark. They use a lot of words, but do not actually seem to say anything (besides buy our book!).

Space on the Ark

Given a cubit that is 18", this gives an ark that is 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (see here).

Say we go with hyperevolution, and only 16,000 animals on the ark, this gives each animal 100 cubic feet each, or 200 for the pair. Think about a box, 3 foot high, 6 foot wide and 10 foot long. And you need to keep a year's supply of food for two animals (or longer; what do they eat when they get off - predators are a big problem) in that space too. Also, you need to allow access for the keeper, so part of that space will be the passageway the keeper uses to get at the box.

Obviously animals are different sizes, and you would put the elephants and apatosaurus in bigger boxes, while your mice and sparrows go in smaller ones. Still, it sounds a bit squashed to me.

Life on the Global Ocean

How big were the waves during the flood? How hot was it?

From here:

The ark was built on a 1:6 ratio (50 cubits:300 cubits). The science of naval architecture reveals that the most stable ratio for an ocean going vessel is 1:6. All modern day ocean going vessels use this same length to width ratio. It is estimated that the ark could easily have survived even the largest of ocean waves. If the ark were equipped with a dragging stone anchor, it would have been properly positioned to meet any size ocean wave. The design of the ark would have made it almost impossible to turn over. 

Apparently they can tell that the ark would be "almost impossible to turn over" from the ratio of the length to width. I bet the designers of the ATLANTIC CARTIER are kicking themselves (length 250 m, width 32.26 m, ratio 1:7.7).

It is incredible what creationists will read into these things.

Provisions

As well as packing the animals on the ark, you also need food and water for them. A man needs to drink at least 2 litres of water a day (see here), so let us suppose that all the animals on average need 1 litre each day. If we allow hyperevolution again, and 16,000 animals, then Noah will need 5840000 litres, or nearly 6 thousand tonnes of water! I wonder what he stored it in - ceramic pots? The good news is that it would be easy to collect, just collect rainwater for the first forty days (unless this was water that came out of the subterranean caverns, in which case it will be rather dirty).

A sheep will eat around 4 kg of hay a day (see here), say about 1.3 tonnes in a year. An average value across all the animals might be about 500 kg of food for the year, so 8 thousand tonnes of food for the 16,000.

A lion will get through 2.5 tonnes of meat in a year (according to here), and may not be too happy at eating meat that has been hanging around for a year.

Ventilation

Here is a helpful document about transporting animals. Say we go with AiG's figure of 300 kinds of mammals, so 600 mammals on a ark, and they radiate heat like a sheep at 75W, all those animals together are producing about 500 kW of heat (assuming a small contribution from birds, which tend to be small, and amphibians and reptiles, which are cold blooded). That is like have 250 2 kW heats in the ark, and the whole thing is ventlated by a single window. It is going to get pretty hot in there.


A man produces about 60 kg of carbon dioxide a day (see here). That will be about 40 to 50 tonnes every day for all those animals, which is around 25 million litres, or 300 litres every second. And that all has to flow through that single window, with fresh air coming in the other way.

Oh, wait, this was a window that was generally kept closed.

Genesis 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:


There are plans by creationists to build a replica ark; it will be interesting to see how they ventilate it. Of course, their 16,000 animals will be plastic, so not producing carbon dioxide and heat, nevertheless, I bet they have better ventilation than a single closed window.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Nochian Flood Part 1 - Flood Mechanics

Many creationist believe in a flood that covered the entire world, something like 4500 years ago, based on a literal interpration of the Bible and this serves to illustrate how far creationist will ignore evidence - and indeed common sense - when it happens to conflict with their personal beliefs.

A great illustration of this thinking comes from Answers in Genesis:

First, we know God’s Word is true and there was a global Flood. Knowing the Flood happened, and in light of the fact that we have plants today, the important question is: in what ways did the plants and seeds survive the Flood? The logical argument for the fact that plants survived the Flood is actually quite simple.
    The Bible states there was a worldwide Flood.
    We see plants today.
    Therefore plants survived the Flood.

It does not matter what logic, evidence or common sense say, to them it is a fundamental truth that a worldwide Flood happened. If logic says this is impossible, then the logic is wrong. If the evidence says no such flood happened then the evidence is wrong or must be interpreted.

To people like that, nothing anyone says will ever convince them they are wrong. This is the first of three posts about the Noachian Flood, and is directed to people with an open mind, people interested in science.

Before going further, it is important to acknowledge that plenty of Christians do not believe in a global flood. Here are a couple of well thought-out articles about the flood by Christian writers.
http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Carol%201.pdfhttp://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Carol%201.pdf
http://www.letu.edu/opencms/export/download/chemphys/Plate_Tectonics.pdf


Where did the Water Come from?


The Bible specifically says that the flood covered the mountains, and so if we assume a literal interpration of the Bible, then there must have been mountains. This is important; if the flood had to cover the mountains, there must have been vastly more water than a flood on a world as smooth as a snooker ball. I have seen a number of possibilities offered. Here are a selection.

A Comet


The water could have come from a comet, as comets are basically dirty ice... Except that as things fall to Earth they gain energy, getting hotter and hotter (a big problem when spacecraft reenter the atmosphere). A comet of water at absolute zero (-273°C) in space will get up to over boiling point by the time it reaches the surface. The people and animals of the ark are just not going to be able to survive on a sea of boiling water.

Any one seriously entertaining this idea should read about the Tungaska event, when something only a few tens of meters across fell to Earth over Siberia.

Meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere from outer space every day, usually travelling at a speed of more than 10 kilometres per second (6.2 mi/s) or 36,000 km/h (22,400 mph). The heat generated by compression of air in front of the body (ram pressure) as it travels through the atmosphere is immense and most meteoroids burn up or explode before they reach the ground. Since the second half of the 20th century, close monitoring of Earth's atmosphere has led to the discovery that such meteoroid airbursts occur rather frequently. A stony meteoroid of about 10 metres (30 ft) in diameter can produce an explosion of around 20 kilotons, similar to that of the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki...

Stones obviously have a much, much higher boiling point than water...


Underground Caves


Walt Brown has perhaps the most comprehensive theory. He posit huge underground caverns filled with water. Tidal effects on the Earth from the moon cause the water to become hotter and hotter, well beyond the boiling point (which is possible as the water is under pressure). Finally the water is so hot (374°C according to Brown) it bursts out along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - the waters of the deep. Brown has this water ejected at such speed that signifcant amounts are blasted into space (32 miles every second). He further has a tectonic plates - which he calls hydroplates - skimming across the planet, on the remaining water in the caverns.


This theory has a few issues. Superheated water is, well, very hot. Noah and family simply cannot survive on a sea of boiling water. In fact, there will not be any liquid water. Once it bursts free, it is no long under pressure, so will instantly turn to steam. Brown argues that rapidly expanding water will cause cooling, and this is true, but the water is only expanding if it is turning to gas, so his explanation is predicted on the assumption that the water turns to steam.

Brown uses his theory to explain many things. Among his claims, he states:

It appears that the fountains of the great deep and the sustained power of an “ocean” of high-pressure, supercritical water jetting into the vacuum of space launched, as the flood began, the material that became comets.

The fountains of the great deep launched rocks as well as muddy water. As rocks moved farther from Earth, Earth’s gravity became less significant to them, and the gravity of nearby rocks became increasingly significant. Consequently, many rocks, assisted by their mutual gravity and surrounding clouds of water vapor, merged to become asteroids.

So ejected from these underground caves was not just enough water to cover the planet, but enough rock to make the asteroids (about 3x10^21 kg of rock) and the comets too (total mass rather less certain, but probably considerably more than the asteroids). It is curious how most of the rocky material just happened to end up is neat orbits in the asteroid belt, while the water/ice did not. As far as I know, Brown offers no explanation for this sorting process.


Water Canopy


The water canopy theory posits a mist of water before the flood.

Go 10 m under water and pressure increases two fold. This is, of course, due to the weight of water over you. If you have that water in a mist form, it still weighs the same. A mist that contains enough water to increase sea level by 10 m will be so heavy it will cause an identical two-fold increase in pressure (it is the same amount of water, so it must weigh the same). This flood was high enough to cover the highest mountains, so was considerably more than 10 m deep, so the antediluvian pressure must have been huge.

Also, what changed so that at one time the atmosphere could hold oceans of water as a mist, but now it cannot?

Water is a green house gas, and all that water in the atmosphere would have had a huge impact on global warming. The planet would have been too hot to sustain life. ICR has been forced to posit a solar constant that was 75% less back them to make the model work.

It must be noted that many creationists nowadays do acknowledge that the theory does not stand up:

The Canopy theory is a now largely discredited model originally developed as an explanation for the source of the flood water that covered the Earth during the Biblical flood of Noah.[1] Henry Morris once promoted the canopy theory as the most probable source of the global flood waters, citing a number of supporting factors in both The Genesis Flood (1961) and The Genesis Record (1976).

What the Bible actually says


It is interesting to look at the cosmology of the Bible (after, this  is about literal Bible, right?). According to Genesis, God created the world by separating the waters below from the waters above (some interprete the water canopy as the waters above, but that makes no sense, as that is gaseous water; the Bible is refering to liquid water).

Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

In this ancient cosmology, the world is a bubble in a universe of water. We have a solid structure, the firmament, stretched across the world, keeping out the waters above, the the ground below us. In this context, the flood is easy to understand:

Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

What this is talking about is leaks in our world, water coming through holes in the ground ("the fountains of the great deep") and in the sky ("the windows of heaven"), and in a universe where water is all-pervading, there is plenty of it to flood the world. Afterwards, it can just go back to where it came from.

Of course, Biblical literalists reject this literal reading of the Bible.

Did God Plan the Flood from the Start?


Some of the ideas above imply that God created the world in such a way that he could later wipe out everyone in a flood. Why else build those underground caves? That is an uncomfortable idea - premediated genocide. This means that as God created the world, he thought to himself; "Hmm, in two thousand years these people will be having evil thoughts. I better build the Earth with a way to kill them all. Better to drown the lot of them than to try to persuade them to be nice to each other. Then after drowning all but eight, I will promise not to do it again, and in four thousands years, I try the persuading method."

The standard "get out" at this point is that we cannot imagine what God is thinking because he is so immense. I would say we cannot imagine what he was thinking because it is nonsense.


The Geological Column


It is a fact of nature that rocks are stratified, that is, laid down in layers, and those layers are consistent across the globe to some degree - some may be missing here, others over there, but there is a distinct sequence. This is the geological column. The standard model says that these layers were laid down many millions of years, and the different layers reflects the different climates and conditions in the would at that time, and this is supported by the appearance of specific fossils in a layer, and further confirmed by radiometric dating or rocks in the layer.

The creationist model has all (or most) of these layers being put down in one year.

This presents quite a problem for the sorting of fossils and radioisotopes, and creationists have invented any manner of stories to explain the ordering of fossils. As far as I know, none have ever attempted to explain the ordering of radioisotopes. They will, of course, try to dismiss radiometric dating, but the ordering of how the isotopes is distributed is a fact of nature. In the standard model, the ordering is because the layers are very era separated by millions of years.


There are many geological, behavioral, and physiological factors expected to affect an organism's time of death during a flood as described in the Bible. For example, habit elevation, mobility, environmental tolerance, and intelligence were probably the most significant influences upon relative times of death, and therefore, when or if the organism was found in the geological column. The fossils in the geological column demonstrate this expected trend. The first organisms to be buried were the bottom dwelling creatures, followed by free-swimming marine life forms, cold blooded, then warm-blooded, and then humans. It is obvious that organisms possess varying abilities to survive environmental stress (i.e. cold blooded animals such as reptiles are extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and amphibian will die upon contact with salt water).
http://nwcreation.net/fossilsorting.html


In an unpublished experiment at Loma Linda University, a dead bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian were placed in an open water tank. Their buoyancy in the days following death depended on their density while living, the build-up and leakage of gases from their decaying bodies, the absorption or loss of water by their bodies, and other factors. That experiment showed that the natural order of settling following death was, from the bottom up: amphibian, reptile, mammal, and finally bird.18 This order of relative buoyancy correlates closely with “the evolutionary order,” but, of course, evolution was not the cause. Other factors, also influencing burial order at each geographical location, were: liquefaction lenses, which animals were living in the same region, and each animal’s mobility before the flood overtook it.
http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/Liquefaction4.html


Rewriting the surface of the planet

Let us jump back to Genesis 3.
Genesis 3:11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

So before the flood countries identifiable as Ethiopia and Assyria were present, and the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. And yet during the flood many meters of rock were deposited, as described here:

Gargantuan whirlpools would have thrown huge masses of flora and fauna together and buried both under massive amounts of silt and mud. And this is exactly what we see in the fossil record. This real evidence also shows us that much of the fossil record was in fact laid down in a relatively short time.

Some creationists go even further in their catastrope. Walt Brown has the continents zipping around and crashing into each other. Most will tell you the flood created the Grand Canyon. This was an event that rewrote the surface of the world. But somehow, these rivers, these two countries survived.

It is like they are reading chapter three of Genesis with one half of the brain, and chapter seven and eight with the other half, and there is no communication between the two.


Where Did the Water Go


No explanation has been given that I am aware of whereby the waters are actually removed; creationist hold, rather, that the water in the oceans is made up of the flood water. Thus the depths of the oceans must be formed towards the end of the flood. So we have a cataclysmic event at the start of the flood, with the arrival of the water, whether by comet, or whatever, and a second cataclysmic event several months later in which the great trenches in the oceans open up to swallow up the flood water.

According to here 97% of the planets water is in the oceans, a total of 1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers. A lot of water, right?

The Earth has a radius of 6371 km. Assuming it is perfectly smooth, it would have a surface area of 510,000,000 square kilometers (from 4 Pi r^2). Pour all that water on to surface of our perfectly smooth planet, and it would fill it to a depth of 2.7 km. Hmm, that is quite a problem for the creationist account, because Mount Ararat is nearly twice as high as that, at 5.1 km:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Ararat. And of course, it is not the tallest mountain by far (merely the tallest know to the Bblical authors). Everest is 8.8 km high.

Okay, the world is not perfectly smooth, hills and mountains will help boost that water, but on the other hand pre-flood oceans will serve to reduce it (and remember, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers existed before the flood; they must have flowed into a sea somewhere).

At first glance the idea that the flood waters are still here in the oceans may be attractive, but the numbers do not add up; there just is not enough water on the planet to have a global flood as depicted in Genesis.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Garden of Eden

The story of Adam and Eve is fascinating. It is fundamental to creationism, and in some sense to Christianity itself, as the Fall was the incident that necessitated Jesus. Let us have a look at this story...

Life and breath


7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
I have asked Christians several times when a baby receives a soul and have yet to receive a firm reply from anyone. I realised recently that the answer is here. It is clear from this verse that having a soul is associated with breath. God breathes, man has a soul. The implication is that a baby has a soul the moment she draws her first breath.

Most Christians will not like that answer, now that we have ultrasound scans and can see the baby in the womb, and those who enjoy bombing abotion clinics will be particularly upset by it; if they can find Biblical support for their position, I am happy to listen.

Those two trees


9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Okay, three verses into the narrative, and I have questions. God decided to create these two trees why exactly? What is their purpose? God has no need of them personally, being all-knowing and all-powerful. All they are is a plot device.

Do they still exist today? Is there some hidden corner of the world where the the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil still grow to this day? It seems unlikely that the tree of life would die, but so much of the world has been searched, it is hard to imagine where. Are they visible on Google Maps? Perhaps they were destroyeed in the flood...

Why did God plant them in the middle of the garden where he put Adam. There are half a trillian stars out there, just in our galaxy, and perhaps an infinite number of galaxies. That gives God a lot of scope for putting those trees out of Adam's reach. God is all-present, it makes no difference to him where they are - and any way he is all-knowing and all-powerful, so does not need them any way.

The only reasonably conclusion is that God created and situated the two trees specifically because he wanted them near to Adam. Now, bear in mind he is all-knowing, and knew that Adam would eat the fruit even before he created the trees...

Geography before the Noachian flood


11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
What is curious about these verses is that they refer to the post- flood world. If we believe creationists, the flood laid down the entire geological column; it completely rewrote the surface of the planet. They are particular fond of claiming the Grand Canyon formed in the flood, and yet here are a bunch of rivers that seemingly were unaffected by the flood. More remarkable, the countries of Assyria and Ethiopia somehow survived a flood that destroyed all but eight people.

Adam's Rib


21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
There is a theory this originally said his baculum, which makes all sorts of sense.

So who was lying again?

3 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
That naughty snake, lying to Eve like that.

Or so we are taught to believe. But the fact is that what the snake says is true. God has said they will die that day, but they do not, and instead the learn about good and evil. The snake speaks the truth.

God, on the other hand... Well, he said they would die that day, and in fact they did not. God was the one who lied to Adam and Eve.

Of course, God is very angry when his lies are discovered...

The Serpent

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
God curses not just the serpent, but all the serpent's descendants. Clearly this is not Satan, this is just a snake. There is nothing in Genesis that gives the slightest indication that this is Satan (or Satan talking through a snake). That does not stop many Christians (including creationist organisation AiG) promoting this idea though.

There are other verses they cite that refer to this, such as this, by Paul:
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
But this has no mention of Satan either, so how can it support the claim that the serpent was Satan? Another is this one:
Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
But as verse 2 of the chapter makes clear, this is addressed to "the prince of Tyrus"; Eden is used as a metaphor and again Satan is not mentioned (see here  for more).

Three verses in Revelation are also mentioned:
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Note that in Rev 12:9 this is refering to being cast out of heaven, not the Garden of Eden. These may be linking Satan to the Garden of Eden, however:
  • This may be because the author is confused (Catholics reject the whole of Revelation for a reason...)
  • It is entirely possible the author is using "that old serpent" merely as a derogatory term
  • It is clear from the Book of Job that Satan is on good terms with God at that time - despite disagreeing with each other about Job - so the explusion from heaven must be after that.
  • Even if Satan is a serpent, there is nothing to indicate he was the specific snake in the Garden of Eden story.
In fact, what we see here is a bunch of verses that people have sown together to create something that just is not there. Snakes bruise the heels and are crushed on the head because they crawl on the ground ("it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel"); that makes no sense at all for Satan.

Just-so stories in the Bible

By the way, this is a great example of a Biblical just-so story. Why do snakes not have legs? Because God cursed them all in the Garden of Eden. Two others appear later. Why do women suffer so much in child birth? and Why is life such a struggle? Again, these facts are "explained" by God cursing the respective parties.

The Problem of Evil is a perplexing one for monotheism. The Garden of Eden is the the just-so story that answers it.

The Fall

God was very annoyed that Adam had discovered the lie, and so we get the Fall.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
...
22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
This is a pivotal event in creationism. This is when carnivores appeared, when viruses and bacteria and parasites begin. Before, they were all living in harmony, the sharks, the tyrannosaurs, the polio and small pox virus, the  tuberculosis bacterium, toxoplasmosis parasites.

Note that the Fall was not a direct effect of eating the fruit, unlike the knowledge of good and evil. The Fall occurred because God willed it to happen to punish Adam and Eve. God caused the sharks and the tyrannosaurs to become carnivores, the polio and small pox virus to become so devastating, the  tuberculosis bacterium, toxoplasmosis parasites to become horribly debilitating diseases.

All diseases are exist because God chose to make them so when Adam and Eve annoyed him.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Darwin and Hitler

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part four in a series of four posts.

Darwin and Hitler

Whole books have been written that pretend to a strong, direct link from Darwin's theory to Hitler's holocaust, such as From Darwin to Hitler: evolutionary ethics, eugenics, and racism in Germany by Richard Weikart, and there is even a movie that tries to make the case, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Perhaps there are other possible links we should consider, and see which looks the strongest. What I am going to do on this page is compare Darwin with Martin Luther (founder of protestantism) and with the Bible, and see where the links to Hitler are strongest, firstly comparing the ideas advocated by Darwin, Luther and the Bible, and secondly by comparing the sort of esteem Hitler regarded them in.

If creationists say we should abandon evolution because it leads to Hitler, would they also say that we should abandon Christianity if it can be shown that it leads to Hitler?

Comparing the ideas

Darwin and Hitler

As discussed in an earlier post, Darwin wrote a book arguing that mankind was all one race; he was a pioneer against racism. In contrast, Hitler saw the Jewish people as a race apart.

Creationists make a big thing of "survival of the fittest". This was not a philosophy Darwin advocated, it was a phenomenon he observed. Further, what Darwin observed was a natural process, he even called it natural selection. Contrast that to Hitler's attempt to exterminater the Jews. This was not natural selection. Hitler's plan for a master race came not from Darwin, who stated we are all the same race, but from the Spartans (see the quote in the earlier post) and animal husbandry.

Comparing the ideas of the Bible and Hitler

Hitler considered the Jews to be a race apart, and this is exactly how the Old Testament portrays them. Of course, Hitler held them in low regard, while the Old Testament describes them as God's chosen people, but that difference is in the Bible too. The Jews are the Christ killers, the ones who rejected Jesus' message. The crucifiction account in Luke goes to some pains to absolve the Romans and blame the Jews for Jesus' execution (Luke was probably trying to sell the idea of Christianity to the Romans).
Luke 23:13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
...
20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
These verses have been a source of anti-semitic feeling from the very early days of the Christian church.

Comparing the ideas of Luther and Hitler

Sadly, this is all too easy. Luther sets out a blueprint for the holocaust in his book On The Jews and their Lies:

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire...

Second, that all their books-- their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible-- be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted...

Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country...

Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it...

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)
The comparison was well recognised by the German people of the time. For instance:
Many people confess their amazement that Hitler preaches ideas which they have always held.... From the Middle Ages we can look to the same example in Martin Luther. What stirred in the soul and spirit of the German people of that time, finally found expression in his person, in his words and deeds.
-"Geist und Kampf" (speech), Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, [cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich]

Comparing How Hitler Regarded Them

How Hitler Regarded Darwin

Hitler required all books about Darwin's theories to be banned. That alone is enough to destroy the claims of the creationists that Hitler held those theories in any regard.

6. Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufkl?rung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Haeckel).

6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel).
- From here
Of course, that it is a documented fact that the Nazis wanted Darwin's theories burned does not stop the creationists pretending that the Nazis held Darwin's theories close to their hearts. Who cares about facts, when you have religious dogma to peddle?

How Hitler Regarded the Bible

The Nazis were predoninantly Christians, as was pretty much everyone in Europe at that time. The Wehrmacht (the army forces other than the Waffen-SS) had "Gott mit uns" (God with us) on their belt buckles. This page has numerous examples of artefacts connecting Christianity to Nazis.

Many prominant Nazis certainly saw themselves as carrying out God's will. For example:

…I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that the Jews should serve as an example to every race, for they created the racial law for themselves—the law of Moses, which says, ‘If you come into a foreign land you shall not take unto yourself any foreign women.’ And that, Gentlemen, is of tremendous importance in judging the Nuremberg Laws. These laws of the Jews were taken as a model for these laws
 - Julius Streicher, Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945, Vol. 12

Many Christians claim Hitler was not a Christian. The truth is that the evidence is not at all clear. He was certainly not a conventional Christian, but his mother was a devout Christian, and sent him to a monastry school (from which he was expelled for smoking; see here).

Also:

Did Hitler believe in God? He believed deeply in God. He called God the Almighty, master of all that is known and unknown.
Propagandists portrayed Hitler as an atheist. He was not. He had contempt for hypocritical and materialistic clerics, but he was not alone in that. He believed in the necessity of standards and theological dogmas, without which, he repeatedly said, the great institution of the Christian church would collapse.
- Leon Degrelle, The Enigma of Hitler (from here)

What did Hitler actually say (taken from Wiki)?

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

The individual may establish with pain today that with the appearance of Christianity the first spiritual terror entered into the far freer ancient world, but he will not be able to contest the fact that since then the world has been afflicted and dominated by this coercion, and that coercion is broken only by coercion, and terror only by terror. Only then can a new state of affairs be constructively created. Political parties are inclined to compromises; philosophies never. Political parties even reckon with opponents; philosophies proclaim their infallibility.

The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will.

Hitler seems to have had some regard as Jesus, who he believed was an aryan and an enemy of the Jews, and most importantly, not the son of God. But Hitler was not an atheist; perhaps Deist would be the best word.

In any event, although his religious views were unorthodox, it seems as though the Bible was a significant influence on him. I am not arguing Hitler was a Christian, but that the Bible was a bigger influence on him than Darwin was. I think the evidence is quite clear that this is the case.


How Hitler Regarded Luther


Whether Hitler planned Kristallnacht at all is unknown, but Kristallnacht indicates the power of anti-semitism in Germany at that time, and it was this anti-semitism that Hitler exploited and symbolised. Kristallnacht was the 455th birthday of Martin Luther.

It has already been shown that Hitler advocated burning Darwin's books. What did Hitler think of Luther?

To them belong, not only the truly great statesmen, but all other great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin Luther as well as Richard Wagner.
- Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf", Vol. 1, Chapter 8

Summary


What he advocated How Hitler regarded him
Darwin All mankind is one race His books should be burnt
Luther Jews should be persecuted He was one of "the truly great statesmen"... "great reformers"
Bible Jews are a race apart, the Christ killers "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Now, my thinking is not the same as a creationist, and to me it looks like there is a much stronger link from Hitler to Luther than to Darwin. But then, I am looking at facts, not make believe...



Addendum (5/Nov/13)

Just came across a web page that makes the point that there is no evidence Hitler read any of Darwin's books, but there is evidence that Churchill did:
From November to May I read for four or five hours every day history and philosophy. Plato’s Republic it appeared he was for all practical purposes the same as Socrates; the Politics of Aristotle, edited by Dr. Welldon himself; Schopenhauer on Pessimism; Malthus on Population; Darwin’s Origin of Species: all interspersed with other books of lesser standing.
From here:
http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/hitler-darwin-and-winston-churchill/

Also see this interesting paper:
http://home.uchicago.edu/~rjr6/articles/Was%20Hitler%20a%20Darwinian.pdf

And this forum post:
http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?221628-What-purpose-does-disseminating-dishonest-declarations-about-Darwin&p=6621376&viewfull=1#post6621376

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Darwin and Eugenics

A common tactic for ceationist is to link Darwin to racism, slavery and hitler. It is a bizarre idea because well, what are we supposed to think? Darwin was a racist, therefore his ideas must necessarily be wrong? How does that work? Or are they saying we should pretend Darwinism is wrong? You know, like they do. It just makes no sense. Virtually all biologists today accep the theory of evolution because of the overwhelming evidence and the opinions of he originator of the theory are irrelevant.

But what makes this tactic so odious is that the links to Christianity are far stronger. This is part three in a series of four posts.

Eugenics and Racial Purity

Eugenics is animal husbandry applied to mankind. No more and no less than that. We know animal husbandry works, so it seems a safe bet that eugenics too will work, and it must be accepted that its objective, the improvement of the human race, is a noble one. Unfortunately that noble goal cannot be achieved in what we today consider a moral way - it would require forcing certain people to mate, others not to mate - and in extremes, sterilising or even killing those considered less desirable.

Related to eugenics is the idea of racial purity. Racial purity is eugenics with the assumption that one race (your own, of course) is superior, other races are inferior. From this it follows that only members of your race should marry, and certainly no inter-racial marrying.


History of Eugenics

Certain creationists like to pretend that eugenics started with Darwin. While the term may be relatively modern, the idea is older than Jesus. Here is Plato on the subject, advocating selective breeding for women and men.

“It follows from our former admissions,” I said, “that the best men must cohabit with the best women in as many cases as possible and the worst with the worst in the fewest, and that the offspring of the one must be reared and that of the other not, if the flock is to be as perfect as possible. And the way in which all this is brought to pass must be unknown to any but the rulers, if, again, the herd of guardians is to be as free as possible from dissension.”
 - Plato, Republic

Various civilisations practiced infanticide, including Rome, Athenes and Sparta. I wonder if these civilations had a view to prove their gene pool, or only wanted to be rid of offspring that only be a burden, however, Hitler was particularly taken with the Spartan model, which he considered to be eugenics:

At one time the Spartans were capable of such a wise measure, but not our present, mendaciously sentimental, bourgeois patriotic nonsense. The rule of six thousand Spartans over three hundred and fifty thousand Helots was only thinkable in consequence of the high racial value of the Spartans. But this was the result of a systematic race preservation; thus Sparta must be regarded as the first Völkisch State. The exposure of sick, weak, deformed children, in short their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses.
- Adolf Hitler (from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler)

Modern eugenics was founded by Francis Galton (who invented the word), who it must be noted, was a half-cousin of Darwin and inspired by Darwin's book. But that does not mean that Darwin advocated eugenics or that Darwin's theory was wrong.

Recent Eugenics and Racial Purity

True engenics is about promoting procreation in the best, and preventing it in the least suitable. Historicially, most so-called eugenics has been more akin to ethnic cleansing. "My race is superior, so we can breed, your race is inferior, so should be sterilised." Hitler did not care how intelligent or fit the Jews were, he used eugenics as an excuse to try to wipe out the race. This is racial purity - and remember, Darwin was a big proponant of the idea that humans are all one single race, as discussed here.

Before World War 2, this form of eugenics was very popular across the US (and not just there), as this Wiki page explains.

Also:
Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race." But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states.
- Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race (excerpt here)

See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-06-23-eugenics-carrie-buck_N.htm?csp=34

Eugenics and Darwin

Creationists attempt to link this to Darwin using Darwin's theory of natural selection. The thing about eugenics is that it very much is NOT natural selection.

Furthermore, creationists confuse Darwin observing natural selection with Darwin advocating natural selection. That is, Darwin saw that  selection happens in the natural world, and appreciated that this fact could explain a lot, but he never argued that this was something anyone should actually do.

Now, if Darwin had written a book extolling the merits of animal husbandry then the creationists might have a point. Such a book - arguing that selective breeding is a good thing that benefits the breed - would be a step to eugenics.

Here is what Darwin actually said:

Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. ... We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.
- Charles Darwin,  The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1882

Note that he acknowledges that eugenics would work (though the term had yet to be coined at that time), but, as he points out, this is clear from animal husbandry, and requires no insight into evolution to realise. Then he states clearly that the practice would be "evil".

Unfortunately, "social Darwinism" muddies the waters, so let us be clear. Social Darwinism was not proposed by Darwin, and neither did he support it. Social Darwinism is not and has never been a part of the theory of evolution. So whatever social Darwinism says about eugenics has no impact on either Darwin himself or the theory of evolution.

Racial Purity in the Bible

There is (as far as I am aware) nothing in the Bible about eugenics itself, but racial purity is a common motif in the Old Testament. There are certainly examples of Israelites marrying gentiles in the Bible, but as far as God's commands go, it seems he wants to keep the blood of his holy people pure.

Genesis 24:3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living,

Deuteronomy 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

Exodus 34:15 "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Joshua 23:12 "But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.

1 Kings 11:2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.

Ezra 9:2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness."

Ezra 9:12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.'

Nehemiah 10:30 "We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.

Hosea 5:7 "They have dealt treacherously against YAHWEH: for they have begotten STRANGE children:"

As an aside, I find it curious that this God is so worried that his chosen people will abandon him for the imaginery false gods of the other tribes. It is almost as though worshipping this all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god is about as effective or attractive as worshipping a god that does not exist...

The instructions of Leviticus 19:19 seem likely to be there to reinforce the ideal of purity and separation.

Leviticus 19:19 “‘Keep my decrees.
“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.
“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

Understandably, most Christians today shy away from this, and reinterprete the verses in a more politically correct way (eg here) but not all (see here). I am sure the world is a better because of this!

Summary

Darwin advocated the idea that we are all one race, and stated that enforcing selective breeding would be with "an overwhelming present evil". The Bible, on the other hand, makes numerous demands on racial purity for God's chosen people.